ASM Enthusiastically Supports DOE Science for the Future Act

June 10, 2021

ASM submitted the following letter supporting the bipartisan Department of Energy Science for the Future Act, which would provide comprehensive policy guidance and funding authorization for major research programs stewarded by DOE's Office of Science.

These programs include research on materials and chemical science, bioscience, climate science, fusion energy, scientific computing, and high energy and nuclear physics. The Act also offers guidance for the Office of Science’s Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists program to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in STEM programs supported by DOE.

Dear Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), one of the oldest and largest life science societies, is pleased to support the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act. As a global society with more than 30,000 members in the United States and around the world whose mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences, ASM appreciates your leadership and bipartisan commitment to fundamental research, world-class science facilities and workforce development efforts supported by the DOE Office of Science.

Microbes are the foundation of scientific discovery, and the federal government plays an instrumental role in funding microbiology research. The central importance of the microbial sciences to understanding the world around us and solving major problems of our time, including climate change, cannot be overstated. DOE-funded microbial research is integral to addressing the grand societal challenge of growing the emerging U.S. bioeconomy, including the development of alternative energies, wastewater treatment solutions and myriad other biotechnology solutions that benefit society.

ASM supports a robust, sustained investment in publicly-funded basic and translational research.

We are especially pleased that the DOE Science for the Future Act would authorize robust and sustained funding increases for the DOE Office of Science over the next four years beginning in FY 2022 with an authorized appropriation level of $8.729 billion in FY 2022—a 24 percent increase above FY 2021 enacted levels-- accompanied by 7 percent growth annually through FY 2026 to sustain core activities and science facilities. This includes a 7 percent annual increase for all 6 Office of Science core research programs over the next 5 years.

ASM supports increased support for infrastructural resources, improved data collection and curation, and the development of empirical, computational and mechanistic modeling tools to improve understanding, prediction and management.

DOE-supported facilities are global leaders in genome sequencing and genomic science, and they have strengthened the predictive capabilities of ecosystem and global scale models using the world’s fastest computers. Facilities such as the Joint Genome Institute enable advanced analysis of microbes and microbiomes, which are key to unlocking climate change solutions and discovering emerging pathogens. Programs such as the National Microbiome Data Collaborative provide next-level opportunities for collaboration and coordination of data across federal agencies and projects.

ASM strongly supports new funding mechanisms proposed in this legislation, such as climate and environmental mid-scale research centers and a mid-scale instrumentation program that will take advantage of DOE’s world-class scientific user facilities. This legislation’s authorization levels would allow DOE to accelerate construction and upgrades of major, large-scale scientific facilities, thereby maintaining U.S. leadership and attracting the best scientific talent.

ASM supports policies that facilitate the translation of research into scalable mechanisms that use microbes to solve grand challenges of the 21st Century such as climate change.

Through its support of research to advance the next generation of energy storage, solar, hydrogen, critical materials, fusion energy, manufacturing, carbon removal and bioenergy technologies, among many other areas, the Office of Science is uniquely positioned to help us reach our shared goals of developing energy that is clean, sustainable, reliable and affordable. The proposed legislation would authorize up to six bioenergy research centers to conduct fundamental research in plant and microbial systems biology, biological imaging and analysis and genomics. These centers will also accelerate advanced R&D of biomass-based liquid transportation fuels, bioenergy, or biobased materials, chemicals, and products that are produced from a variety of regionally diverse feedstocks. We enthusiastically support this provision along with new research initiatives proposed in the bill to address urgent energy, climate and environmental challenges.

The DOE Office of Science is a key supporter of microbial science research. The DOE Science for the Future Act affirms the committee’s commitment to maintaining American leadership in science and technology. On behalf of ASM and its members, thank you again for introducing this important legislation, and the Society stands ready to assist you as the legislative process moves forward.

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
ASM Advocacy is making it easy and providing opportunities for members to advocate for evidence-based scientific policy.